As the days draw in at Davis, we have experienced another spectacular aurora (with laser), indoor extreme sports, winterising the station, a super moon and a drop of our special station brew.

Angry’s aurora

Another splendid aurora, along with the AAD Lidar laser beaming up into the skies above Davis. Captured by Angry.

An extreme sport first. Disco Carpet Bowls!

Last Saturday a new and exciting extreme sport came to Davis. Yes folks, it is the newest sporting phenomenon, Disco Carpet Bowls.

Obviously not for the faint of heart, this new and tantalising sport involves indoor carpet bowls as you have never seen it before. Not only is there the ever present danger of allowing expeditioners to throw heavy balls around in a confined space, there is the added excitement of doing this under hallucinogenic, multi-coloured, swirling disco ball lighting, plus the pulsing, throbbing beat of all that 70s music you thought you had forgotten.

The first match of the evening was Linc and Steve versus Mel and Mark. A tough opener, but after a tussle of monumental proportions, experience paid off and Linc and Steve were victorious. Next up were Adam and Joe versus Darryl and Steph. A battle royale ensued, and after a quick assessment of spectator casualties after a power play by Steph went off target, the match eventually went to the all boy team. Despite his obvious handicap of having to play out of an office chair, Steve was on fire and led the senior’s team to a neck and neck victory against the youngsters, Darryl and Steph.

What a night! It was all happening here at Davis. Disco Carpet Bowls World Championships? Bring it on!

Doc’s Dozen — Timo Viehl

Timo Viehl

LIDAR Scientist/Fire Chief/SAR team/Hydroponics team

Now Timo, tell me, is this your first Antarctic experience?

No, this is my second trip to Antarctica. Last season I came down for the summer. As a student I had a small job at an Arctic observatory in northern Norway. I really wanted to continue working in polar regions after finishing my Masters so I asked my institute if there was anything coming up in the Arctic. They couldn’t offer me that but said there was a chance of this job in Antarctica. Even better! And here I am. (Timo is from Germany and here at Davis working on the German Fe LIDAR from the Leibnitz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics.)

What is it like being a LIDAR scientist here?

It is really great. The hours are not always the best but we do get to see all the awesome auroras. It is really great to be directly involved in getting so many interesting and new scientific results. Maintaining a laser system like ours in such a remote place is always a challenge and never gets boring.

What has been your best experience in Antarctica Timo?

On the work side of things, it was getting the system down here in one piece, and then having the laser running and receiving the first data from the atmosphere was a really great moment after a long and busy time of preparation. Off work I would say it was when I first had the time to sit down with some penguins, enjoy the view towards the icebergs and just experience the beauty and serenity of Antarctica.

What do you love about Antarctica?

Antarctica is such a unique place. Coming down on the ship was the best thing that could have happened. Every day it is getting colder and icier. The feeling of remoteness slowly increases and the various weather situations produce one stunning beautiful moment after the other, and it stays like that. Now that the last ship has left we really know that we are on our own and need to take responsibility for anything that might occur. Antarctica is beauty and adventure. What’s not to love?

Who inspires you?

Anyone having the guts to get up and pursue their aspiration.

If you were a car, what car would you be?

(I’m definitely thinking Porsche Panamera Turbo S — Doc)

I would probably want to be something like a 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 but end up being more like my 2007 Skoda Fabia. (Wrong again!)

What have you learned living in our little community at Davis?

Being tolerant. Not everyone shares the same ideas about how to treat butter in an aesthetical way. (I couldn’t agree with you more Timo. Some of the butter desecration has been a disgrace!) There are lots of little things. I think our crew is extremely good at helping each other out though. Everyone notices jobs that need to be done and helps out where ever they can. It’s good to see how everyone is there for the others and how each person’s efforts positively contribute to the group’s spirit.

Timo, you are our Fire Chief this year. Have you always wanted to be a fireman?

I definitely wanted to be one for at least 2 weeks when I was 7 or 8 years old after my class visited the local brigade.

How do you find our Australian humour and customs? Is there anything in particular that you remember as an example?

I’m having a really great time here and very much enjoy being amongst the Aussies and Kiwis. I reckon it is particularly Australian to [make fun] of others but also to be able to take a joke and laugh about oneself.

You are a very enthusiastic AFL follower here. How do you think AFL compares to soccer, and which do you prefer?

Ha ha! Trick question! I really love Aussie Rules, it is a great sport. Soon the European Football Championship will begin and I hope we’ll get a bit of soccer enthusiasm infecting Davis. I’ll always enjoy watching either code with my mates, that’s the best part of football. Sadly my home town’s club F.C.Hansa Rostock had a tough year and my favourite AFL club, Hawthorn, hasn’t had the right start in the season yet, but that doesn’t matter and things will change soon. Go mighty fighting Hawks! (…*sigh*…Go Sainters …please!)

Your laser beam is red and the Australian one is green. Do you think it would make a good ‘Star Wars’ battle in the sky, or is that a bad idea?

I think it is a great idea. We should learn to focus less on science and more on the preparation for intergalactic battle. Still working on the ‘zwwuush’ sound when the laser beams cross. (Note to self: make sure to visit Timo more often when he is working alone down at CPC.)

What is in store when you return home?

I am looking forward to eating fresh fruit and veggies, reading the newspaper in a café on a busy street, diving, tennis and of course catching up with friends and loved ones. I’ll probably spend the first year after coming home writing up a PhD thesis about some of our results from down here. Let’s see what happens after that.

Thank you so much for your time today Timo. May the force be with you.

Winterising SAM & TAD

After the summer expeditioners leave, the maintenance and repairs are done, and we’ve washed all the dirty linen, the two summer accommodation buildings SAM and TAD get ‘winterised’.

Basically this means the services are shut down where possible and the buildings are sealed against heat loss. The bedrooms are left to drop to ambient temperatures (at the moment around minus 20°C) and the rest is brought down to around 10°C which is enough to keep everything ticking over in the plant room. The fresh air and exhaust vents are shut and the system runs 100% recirculated air.

Chris and Scotty spent a few days using the elevated work platform to cover the vents, and installing the blue foam insulation to accomplish this.

Super moon

This week, if there was a man in the moon, you would have seen him. On the 5th May the moon was both full and at its closest to the Earth for this year. What is sometimes known as a ‘Supermoon’ makes it’s easier to walk around the station that is for sure. Chris took this image of the moons face on Sunday. 

Something’s brewing

One of the community tasks on station is to help in the brewing of small quantities of various beers. At present we have a select amount for the connoisseur, including a fine fiery ginger beer.

The quality of the beer produced is very much dependent on the amount of time and effort that the wintering team put in to preparation and processing. At Davis, this is usually one evening a fortnight.  The operation is carried out in the basement of the SMQ, affectionately known as the Cro-Bar or Vestfold Brewery, a warm and very yeasty-smelling place.

Chris is the Brew Master this year and has regular clean up and bottling sessions when the batches are ready. This year we have all contributed to a small amount of boutique beer, and are looking forward to ‘Beer tasting’ evening* come the beginning of October!

*In moderation.